“This is an area that’s been long neglected in terms of infrastructure, and that’s one of our major intents — to bring greater connectivity to this northeast Denver community,” says Will Kralovec, director of master site development for the Urban Land Conservancy, which is leading the community-driven development of 303 ArtWay, an urban trail that will someday connect paved walkways and bike paths through Denver's Park Hill neighborhood.
The trail will be big enough for pedestrians, cyclists and art, and now the project is looking for local artists to help develop a temporary installation near the new RTD 40th & Colorado A-Line Station. 303 ArtWay "will be a nine-mile loop that begins and ends at the 40th & Colorado commuter-rail station,” Kralovec notes, adding that the plan is to take the trail “down as far as the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, over to the zoo, and back up toward the station.”
But there's more to the 303ArtWay than simply linking those spots. “The function of the trail is not just connection,” explains Rebecca Vaughan, artistic director at PlatteForum, which has been charged with working with the community to find artists. 303 ArtWay is meant to “celebrate creativity and feature art to be commissioned by the community itself.”
The Colorado Boulevard underpass is a connecting point to the 40th & Colorado station, and will be the focus for the first ArtWay installation. With its overgrown, weedy slopes and graffiti tags, the area is uninviting to pedestrians and “needs some serious love,” says Vaughan. “We want to have artwork that will illuminate it and welcome people to walk under the bridge.”
So the project is looking for art that "creates a significant large, splashy presence,” according to the project guidelines. “We want to bring attention; proposed installations should be large, loud, flashy, energetic — possibly colorful,” Vaughan adds. "We're looking for something animated and intriguing," Kralovec explains.
“Really, any media,” adds Vaughan. And any theme, she says, but "we certainly would love to see proposals that have a sensitivity and understanding to the community.” She points to the historically African-American neighborhood’s rich history of civil-rights activism and encourages proposals that “represent the unique identity of the surrounding two communities: north Park Hill and Elyria-Swansea.
“We’re interested in literal proposals and abstract ones,” Vaughan continues. “We’re open to how artists want to express themselves while referencing the community.”
In addition to PlatteForum, ULI and Northeast Transportation Connections, the project is sponsored by the Denver Arts & Venues P.S. You Are Here program, along with a grant from ArtPlace America. “We have approximately $30,000 of funding, and we can choose one really sexy project or a couple that would total our budget,” says Vaughan.
The request for proposals is open to all Denver-area artists, with a preference for north Park Hill and Elyria-Swansea creatives, in order to bring money back into the community.
This initial call is one of several that will be sent out for varying sites along the trail over the next eighteen months. “This is going to be the first temporary art installment of five,” Kralovec notes. The exhibitions will be spaced throughout neighborhoods along the ArtWay; likely spots for future installations include Holly Square and the Dahlia Campus for Health and Well-Being. There will be community events associated with each new installation.
“These art installations are intended to showcase the unique cultural identity of the local community and get residents excited about the potential of the future 303 ArtWay,” Kralovec says. “Although ULC is the originator of this concept, we intend that this be very community-driven.”
Artists should submit proposals to Rebecca Vaughan at firstname.lastname@example.org by 5 p.m. Sunday, July 10. For more information, visit PlatteForum’s website.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.